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Ex-Student files lawsuit against teacher: ‘Asked to write essay to praise teacher’
Published on: Tuesday, May 16, 2023
By: Cynthia D Baga
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Ex-Student files lawsuit against teacher:  ‘Asked to write essay to praise teacher’
“I remember this very clearly because the last time Mr JJ entered class was when he gave us questionnaires to complete at the end of Feb 2015, and told us that we would discuss the answers together the following week. But the following week he never appeared.
Kota Kinabalu: A former student of a secondary school in Kota Belud told the court that she and her classmates were asked to write an essay or surat aku janji to praise the English teacher who allegedly refused to enter class to teach.

Siti Nafirah Siman, 23, who sued the English teacher Mohd Jainal Jamrin or known as Mr JJ as the first defendant and six others for allegedly refusing to teach the subject to her eight years ago said SMK Taun Gusi Principal, Suid Hj Hanapi had made an offer to her and her classmates in return for arranging for an English language replacement teacher for 4PD class until the end of the academic year of 2015.

“My classmates and I were asked to write an essay to praise  Mr JJ as a teacher and to admit in writing that the he had stopped coming to class to teach us because of our mischief and that we were to be blamed for it.

“My classmates and I agreed to write the essay because we were scared and pressured to do so by the Principal and we were also desperate for a replacement teacher,” she said in her witness statement.

Siti testified before High Court Judge Ismail Brahim, in the hearing of the suit on Monday. 

According to Siti, the contents of the essay were untrue as she and her classmates were forced to write the “untrue essay” because they were desperate at that time as they will be sitting for the final exam.

She told the court that Suid had asked them to write good things about Mr JJ so that he will enter their class again to teach them.

Siti further said after they wrote the essay, two days later, Mr JJ resumed teaching 4PD the English subject but only for a day where he taught us how to compose a simple informal letter. 

“Our final exam was held one week after he resumed his teaching duty. The topics that we were tested on during the final examination were the same topics that he had covered during the one day that he came into class, including the informal letter.

“It seemed as if the whole purpose of Mr JJ teaching us during that final week was solely to cover specific topics that we would be tested on during our final examination,” said Siti.

Apart from Mohd Jainal, Siti also named Suid, SMK Taun Gusi, Kota Belud District Education Officer, Sabah Education Director, Director General of Education, Minister of Education and Government of Malaysia as second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth defendant, respectively.

In her statement of claim, Siti said that the first defendant was a teacher at the school and at all material times was assigned to teach English language to students at the 4 Perdagangan Class (4PD), in which the plaintiff was in.

She claimed that the first defendant failed to attend and teach English classes and also claimed that the second defendant failed to take any reasonable steps to ensure that the first defendant taught 4PD students and that with the knowledge that such failure would result in students not being prepared for the examination as prescribed under the Education Act.

The plaintiff is seeking, among others, a declaration that the first, second, fourth, fifth, seventh and eight defendant were in breach of their statutory duty under the Education Act by failing to; ensure that she is taught the English language from Feb 2015 to Oct 2015 and prepare her for examinations as prescribed under the Education Act.

She is also seeking a declaration that the first, second, fourth, fifth, seventh and eight defendant were in breach of their duty under Regulation 3C, 25, 26 Public Officers (Conduct and Discipline) Regulations 1913; a declaration that the act complained off by the first, second, fourth, fifth, seventh and eighth defendant amounted to misfeasance in public office.

She is also seeking a declaration that the first, second, fourth, fifth, seventh and eight defendant have violated her constitutional right to access to education guaranteed to her under Article 5 read together with Article 12 of the Federal Constitution, damages, costs and any further and other relief which the court may deem fit.

In her witness statement, Siti said she decided to file an action against the defendants to enforce and protect her right to education as a secondary school student and to ensure teachers actually teach students during their assigned periods/timetable fixed by the school. 

She hoped that through the suit, it will end the culture of fearing to speak up on teachers’ absenteeism or failure to teach.

According to Siti, Mr JJ stopped teaching the 4PD class around March of 2015 and at that time, he had also stopped teaching 4GEO class.

“I remember this very clearly because the last time Mr JJ entered class was when he gave us questionnaires to complete at the end of Feb 2015, and told us that we would discuss the answers together the following week. But the following week he never appeared.

“Sometime in April of 2015 after noticing that Mr JJ had completely stopped coming to class to teach, my fellow classmates Juliana Supe, Nuratika Denar and Farah Jaafar and I went to see Cikgu Latifah who had previously taught us science subject to ask her how 4PD class could get a replacement teacher.

“Cikgu Latifah advised us to persuade Mr JJ to teach us. She also advised us to see the principal if we were not able to meet with Mr JJ.

“The same day after we talk to Cikgu Latifah, we tried to find Mr JJ at the teachers’ lounge but he was not there. We then went to look for him at his office but his shoes were outside. We knocked on the door but no one answered.

“Within the same day of meeting Cikgu Latifah, we saw Mr JJ having his meal at the school canteen during recess. On that day, he was scheduled to teach 4PD class for one period i.e. 30 minutes, right after recess but he did not come to class. Instead, we saw him  at the school canteen talking with other teachers,” she said.

She further said that she did not ask Mr JJ to come to class to teach when she saw him still at the canteen because Mr JJ was known for his hot temper and it was quite terrifying to be at the brunt of his temper. 

According to Siti, they had informed Mr JJ’s failure to teach the English subject in early May 2015 just before the mid-term examination to the Principal.

“My fellow classmates Juliana Supe, Farah Jaafar, Halimah Mohd Yusuf and I went to see the Principal during recess as we felt pressured because exams were around the corner but we still do not have a teacher to teach us the English subject.

“We informed the Principal that Mr JJ had stopped teaching us the English language subject since March of 2015, and that we needed a replacement teacher. However, the Principal told us none of the teachers at school had the time to be a replacement teacher. 

“He told us to solve our issues with Mr JJ and to ask him what made him so angry that he refused to teach us. The Principal further said, “kalau kelas bawah, ada ka tiada cikgu, tetap gagal juga...kelas bawah teruk” (if its lower class, you have teacher or no teacher, you still fail... lower class is bad),” he said.

Siti informed the court that she suffered three losses as a result of the failure of Mr JJ to enter class to teach her.

The three losses were she did not manage to get a better education at that time, she also had to divide her time to learn Form Four syllabus at the same time she have to learn Form Five syllabus and has less opportunity to get a better career after completing school.

Counsel Shireen Sikayun represented Siti while Senior Federal Counsel Mohd Hafizi Abdul Halim who was assisted by Federal Counsel Fazriel Fardiansyah Abdul Kadir for the defendants.

Trial continue today (Tuesday).

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